« AnteriorContinuar »
now become a general vice, and deeply corrupts the language of common discourse. A sober man, at this day of declension, can scarcely fall into company, or travel the roads, or pursue his common concerns, but his ears will be wounded by impious and profane language. The streets are filled with children, who learn the dialect of hell, before they learn the rudiments of their mother tongue; and who, instead of remembering and praising their Maker, are growing up in the habit of taking his great and tremendous name in vain. Swearing is become so universally prevalent, that we have reason to fear, a thousand curses are eyery day entering into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, to one effectual, fervent prayer to obtain his pardoning mercy.
The Bible, wbich came from God, and displays his character and will; which unfolds his great and gracious designs, and opens the only door of hope to guilty perishing sinners, is much neglected and despised by us, and often treated as a cunningly devised fable. Some deny the inspiration of the Scriptures. Some pervert the fundamental truths of Christianity. Some attack the first principles of virtue and religion. And multitudes are plunged in the waves of uncertainty and doubt. This spirit of infidelity and skepticism which begins to spread and prevail among us, threatens to destroy our remaining religion and virtue, to fill up the measure of our iniquities, and expose us to the severest marks of the divine displeasure.
We treat sacred and divine things with great neglect and contempt. Some totally disregard the holy Sabbath. Some employ it in the common concerns of life. Some devote it to scenes of vice and 'amusement. Some travel more on that day of sacred rest, than on any other day in the week. And many who
neither travel nor labor, nor visit on the Sabbath, yet make a general practice of neglecting the public worship of God in his house. Though our numbers are evidently increasing, yet our religious assemblies are visibly diminishing. There appears through the land, an uncommon indifference and coldness respecting the duties of public devotion; and the ways of our Zion mourn, because her sacred solemnities are greatly despised and neglected. The public worship of God was designed to keep alive in our minds a realizing sense of the great objects and motives of eternity. Those therefore who neglect and despise the house and worship of God, we may be certain, neglect and despise every thing sacred and divine, and have lost all sense of the infinite weight and importance of eternal realities. And when these objects have lost their weight and influence upon the minds. of a people, there is nothing to restrain them from the grossest vices and immoralities.
We have criminally departed from the noble and virtuous examples of our pious ancestors, in neglecting family religion and family government. They brought up their children and those committed to their care, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and warned them against every appearance of evil. They strictly guarded them in their young and inexperienced age, and actually restrained them from that company, and from those places, where they would be eminently exposed to temptation. And to impressall their instructions and admonitions the deeper on their tender minds, they called them together every morning and evening, to the private devotions of the family. This general and strict observance of family religion and family government,which went handin hand, and strengthened each other, did, for more than a cen
tury, preserve our virtues, and prevent a general corruption of morals. But now these strongest bulwarks of virtue and piety are gone. For family devotion,and parental instruction and discipline, are very generally neg. lected and despised. Many of the rising families do neither exhibit the forms of religion, nor the examples of virtue. They cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God; and neglect the important duties which they owe to Him, to the public, to themselves, an dto the precious souls committed to their care and instruction. These prayerless and irreligious families are the bives of vice. And from these, we may expect, will issue swarms of prayerless children, prayerless parents, ungovernable subjects, and prodigies of wickedness, to disturb the peace of society, and to propagate irrelig, ion and immorality from generation to generation.
There is no vice in nature more debasing and de structive to men, than the vice of intemperance. It robs them of their reason, reputation, and interest. It renders them unfit for human society. It degrades them below the beasts that perish, and justly exposes them to universal odium and contempt. But even this mean and shameful vice has become extremely common and fashionable amongst us. Multitudes may be seen, every day, and almost every where, wallowing in drunkenness, and glorying in their shame. Jotemperance appcars not only in public houses, and at public places, but in private families, and among individuals of every age, and every sex. Those foreign liquors, which were once used as mere cordials and delicacies only, are now used by many, as common and necessary articles of life. The consumption of intoxicating spirits is tenfold greater now than in time past, and a thousandfold greater than it ever ought to be in time to come. Among all our vices, there is
fone so rapid in its progress, nor so fatal in its consequences, as this of intemperance. And unless it be seasonably restrained, it will assuredly turn the poor men into sots, the rich men into beggars, and the wise men into fools.
Prodigality reigns among us in every form, and in every place, covering the heads of rich and poor with the feathers of folly and pride. Those silks which ought to be worn by those nations to whom they were given for use, are become the common ornaments not only of our ladies and gentlemen, but of mul. titudes in the lowest ranks of life. The rage for foreign manufactures, foreign fashions, foreign customs and manners, seems to have seized people of every class, and rendered them totally blind to their own, as well as to the public good. Our resources are by no means sufficient to support our prodigality, and extravagance.
We live in a country formed by nature for agriculture rather than for commerce. We shall never be able, therefore, to support that luxury and profusion, which the more commercial and opulent nations have been able to support. A people who are obliged to labor with their hands, must never indulge in the fopperies and ornaments of dress, but always practise the rigid virtues of industry and economy. It is our wisdom and honor, therefore, as a distinct and separate nation, to form our own customs and manners agreeably to our own peculiar genius, situation, and climate. Besides, we are now loaded with a public debt of many millions, which requires all our exertions, and the most frugal applicalion of all our resources, to discharge. The voice of prudence, the demands of justice, and even the cries of necessity, unitedly urge us to a reformation of manners, and a general disuse of foreign superfluities. And unless we
seasonably hearken to these admonitions, we have nothing to expect, but to reap the fruits of our folly in poverty and shame.
I might still add to this long list of vices, injustice, avarice, oppression, indolence, gaming, gamboling, and almost every other species of corruption, which ever disgraced the most abandoned people. But it is time to observe,
That all these open and gross immoralities, which I have now mentioned, are in the strictest sense, land-defiling and God-provoking iniquities, which threaten to destroy our higliest and best interests, both for time and eternity. If public vices bave invariably destroyed single individuals, private families, and whole nations and kingdoms in time past; it is the height of folly for us to imagine, that the same vices in time to come, will not be followed with the same serious and fatal consequences. If the laws of nature remain, and the same causes continue to produce the same effects, our sins will as certainly, and much more rapidly destroy us, than the same sins have actually destroyed other nations, For,
Vice is the bane of a republic, and immediately saps the foundations of liberty. If our industry, economy, temperance, justice, and public faith are once extinguished by the opposite vices, our boasted Constitution, which is built upon the pillars of virtue, must necessarily fall. And if any other form of governient should happen to arise from its ruins, it must be one which springs from corruption, which is administered by corruption, and which tends to spread and perpetuate corruption.
Besides, we have more reason than any other nation, to expect that our vices will speedily awaken the displeasure of the Almighty, and draw down his judg